From the Editor - June 2011
|Sally wears a caroline sills cardigan; make-up by Debbie Clark
I’ve been thinking about manners lately, ever since we mucked up the cutlery placement on the cover of our April issue.
When we looked hard at our cover image of a party table setting, we noticed that the spoon was beside the fork instead of the knife – which got us all arguing about whether this mattered.
I thought it was okay. Others thought some of you might be upset: “NZ House & Garden should be about getting it right,” someone said. We agreed to go with it and wait for feedback.
Nothing. It’s now two months later and the only correspondence I recall was one email from reader Margaret Cole of Christchurch who was annoyed that we even bothered pointing out the mistake in the magazine. “Having been through two earthquakes, not to mention numerous aftershocks, the placement of cutlery on a table is of no consequence at all,” she said.
I suspect this attitude is shared by most of you. Even if you’re not dealing with an earthquake-shattered home, as Margaret is, spoon placement is not high on the priority list. (If you’re like me, your etiquette dilemmas are more fundamental – such as getting around to inviting my neglected friends over in the first place.)
This lack of response to our cutlery mishap doesn’t mean NZ House & Garden readers are an ill-mannered lot. Quite the reverse. Since starting on this magazine a couple of years ago, I’ve been amazed at how many of you take time to send me polite thank you notes for a reader gift or a feature you like. This morning there was an email from Anna Crozier of Christchurch praising our subscription team for efficiently replacing lost magazines and worrying that they “may be in danger of being taken for granted”. (She’s right, they are.)
In a similar vein, our writer Sue Hoffart – who wrote the feature on page 18 of the June issue about the dark and witty Anderson home – tells me NZ House & Garden interviewees are unfailingly welcoming and often press small gifts upon her. The Anderson kids gave her a box of six fresh eggs – each one spectacularly decorated with eyes and purple feathers. Sue left them on her bench for days: “They made me feel good every time I looked at them,” she said.
And making people feel good, of course, is the essence of what manners are all about. Today – thank goodness – there are more creative ways of showing good manners than back when an editor would have been thoroughly hauled over the coals for a front-cover cutlery faux pas. You could, for example, flick a warm thank you email to someone who isn’t expecting it.
But I don’t need to tell you that.
Story: Sally Duggan
Photographs: Jane Ussher